Pubdate: Fri, 18 Oct 2013
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2013 Cape Argus.
Author: John Harvey, Garden Route Media


DAGGA Party president Jeremy Acton has rallied to the defence of a 
man sent to prison this week for the possession of dagga in Coffee 
Bay, saying imprisonment was a transgression of his cultural rights 
as a Rastafarian.

Gustav Nowers, 28, who recently arrived from Cape Town with his 
partner Odette Oberholzer, pictured, to teach on the Wild Coast, was 
sentenced to six months' imprisonment for possession of 0.68g of 
dagga in the Kwaaiman Magistrate's Court in Mqanduli on Tuesday.

The Dagga Party plans to contest next year's general election, and 
campaigns for the legalisation of cannabis.

Acton, who lives in Cape Town, has written to magistrate K Mkango 
asking him to overturn his decision.

He said the Commission for the Protection of Cultural Language and 
Religious Rights recently recommended that Rastafarians should have a 
right to possess 100g of the drug, which was used ceremonially.

In two cases the State had been summoned to justify the law and 
defend the constitutionality of the prohibition of dagga.

In July 2011 and May this year, people in Gauteng and Cape Town were 
granted applications to stay their prosecutions for dagga possession, 
and the right to present motivations in the high court for a hearing 
in the Constitutional Court regarding the constitutionality and 
justification of the prohibition of the drug.

"I am told that Mr Nowers was refused legal aid or any form of legal 
representation in the court, and that this jail sentence was 
immediately handed down without allowing a postponement to enable him 
to prepare any defence in the case," Acton said.

He labelled the sentence "malicious" and said he would file an appeal.
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